Influencers can all too easily be identified, and socially dismissed, as paid shills. At the very least they’re seen as offering sponsored content, with a clear motivation to sell or at least promote. The trouble is, for most people though, as soon as we smell a pitch, kickback, or a sales commission, our trust plummets!
Advocates on the other hand, offer us messages from an entirely different place.
So if social marketing is going to evolve past the current state of using paid influencers to try and sway us with poorly veiled endorsements, do we really need to draw lines between this and genuine Advocate marketing? Do we need to see and share these crucial differences, in order to avoid confusion or unflattering comparisons?
The easy answer is…We don’t!
Because good Advocates are already doing this for us.
Let’s see how well this natural process already works…
In an age of unfettered social marketing, where word-of-mouth is more important than ever, dispassionate and paid “Influencers” might serve to make a splash in some cases, but they just aren’t a sustainable channel for our messages, in the long run.
On the other hand…Advocates represent the gold standard for influence marketers, because they aren’t simply driven by payment but by passion. They advocate for a much wider range of reasons and for much more intangible and personal rewards.
This is what differentiates them…From the start!
Advocates want to find organizations and offerings that they believe in, that they can develop expertise with, and that they can enthuse others to identify with as well. In short, Advocates represent the kind of trustworthy neighbour that we’d all like to have, and confer with.
Furthermore, even the most jaded audiences can be easily cued to recognize Advocates as genuine proponents and promoters, who are driven by many of the same ideals that they are. Audiences are craving alternatives to the paid-endorsement culture of ‘influencers’ and will gravitate the the authenticity of an Advocate.
So you really don’t need to distance yourself from the current “influencer” marketing tactics as they play themselves out…Because Advocates have already emerged as the clear, trust-worthy and unfettered champions of brands and their offerings. They provide us with a model for marketing that audiences can actually get behind and amplify, without personal reservations or public recriminations.
Just let me know if you’d like any solid stats, memorable speaking points, or compelling key messages to include in your own communications, to help champion your Advocates, if they’re ever at risk of being compared to “influencers”.
Otherwise, their work speaks for itself!
After all, the future of Influence Marketing belongs to Advocates, and will be decided in how well marketing pros can support them in their personal objectives. So let’s keep giving our Advocates everything they need to succeed, because someday an entire field of marketing might get re-named after them!